Alarm firm sued for scamming

ABC Alarm used unethical sales practices, officials said
 - 
Monday, September 1, 2003

HARTFORD, Conn. - State officials here are suing the two principals of a Milford alarm company on charges that the company bilked its residential alarm customers by installing defective equipment and then billing the customers for services that were never performed.

The charges were included in a complaint filed in late July in Connecticut Superior Court in Hartford by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal that details the activities of Anthony Perrotti and Francis Guarino, who operate ABC Alarm Co. The two have run a series of companies that, since 1989, have had a history of consumer complaints, shoddy workmanship and deceptive sales practices, state officials said, once resulting in a forgery conviction for the operation of a home remodeling and finance company.

Neither Perrotti nor Guarino could be reached for comment for this story.

Under the auspices of ABC Alarm, the laundry list of charges against Perrotti and Guarino include telling consumers   that  equipment installed would be free, refusing to repair defective equipment the company had installed, forging consumers names on contracts and refusing to cancel a monitoring contract. ABC Alarm also allegedly forged customer signatures on monitoring contracts and misrepresented to consumers that ABC Alarm was endorsed by an agency or municipality for alarm installations.

Richard Maloney, director of the trade practices division of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, said that the state had received about 130 consumer complaints about ABC Alarm beginning in 2000. The state has no idea how many systems ABC Alarm might have installed, but complaints came from all over the state and also into Boston.

“We would like to see restitution for those consumers that have complained to us,” Maloney said, but said the state does not yet know what the restitution would add up to. On at least five occasions, the state has already repaid a number of consumers for money lost to home improvement companies operated by Perrotti and Guarino beginning in 1989, from the state’s Department of Consumer Protection’s Home Improvement Guaranty Fund.

According to the complaint against ABC Alarm, the two principals would employ various tactics to get consumers to sign monitoring contracts, such as telling the consumer that the installer had forgotten the free equipment but would return with it after the customer signed the contract. Or, customers would hire the company to install equipment that they thought was free only to find out that they needed to sign a contract, according to the complaint. In some cases, where consumers could not get their system to work, they discovered that only the façade of the equipment had been installed without any wiring or electrical hookup.

State officials also said that neither the company nor its employees were legally licensed to install security systems in the state.